How to Tell Mum Starts Have Taken

Rust-colored mum starts at Bluebird Gardens.

How to Tell Mum Starts Have Taken

"...I read your instructions on how to get mums started with root hormone. How can I tell they have roots?" -- Nadine

Hi Nadine, there are several ways you can tell if your mum starts now have roots.

One way is to observe how the cutting is doing once you placed it in the ground. In the photo, I have two mum cuttings. If I had to guess at this point, the one on the left has a better chance of rooting than the one on the right. The leaves and flowers on the one on the left are still green and vibrant; the cutting on the right is shriveling, which means no water and nutrients are getting into the plant.

One thing you could do about the one on the right is gently remove it out of the ground, re-cut the end to right under a growing node; re-apply root hormone and stick it back in the ground.

The second way is to gently tug on the root cutting. If the plant resists, chances are roots are developing. If the cutting comes up, recut the bottom, re-apply root hormone and try again.

The last way is the surefire way. If you are transplanting the cuttings to a permanent spot, you can peek at the bottom to confirm roots as you are transplanting.

 Here's another batch of mum starts in my garden. Which ones from this photo do you think are getting a good start so far?

Here's another batch of mum starts in my garden. Which ones from this photo do you think are getting a good start so far?

If you don't have root hormone - I tend to run out at the end of the season - you can also root mum cuttings in water. I use a clear glass so that I can easily see when the roots get started. Replace the water daily and keep them away from curious cats, one of mine likes to re-decorate the house with mum cuttings. Not must mum cuttings, anything in water is an invitation to drag the greenery all over but that's another story.

Also remember to water seedlings once a month through winter so you will have established perennials. Good luck!

Charlotte